What can Best For The World teach us about impact?
Impact Manager Debbie Thackray celebrates the UK’s Best For The World™ 2022 honourees and shares top tips for impact improvement
Innovation comes when businesses spark ideas from each other, and Best For The World™ (BFTW) is all about encouraging these connections. BFTW B Corps score in the top 5% of one or more of the 5 impact areas of the B Impact Assessment, and the UK is home to an impressive array of these high achievers; 165 B Corps (20% of the UK community) have been recognised (click here to view the list of honourees around the world).
As well as celebrating high scoring B Corps, BFTW is a chance to engage deeply with best practice and foster cycles of peer-to-peer support. We caught up with Debbie Thackray, Impact Manager at B Lab UK and lead on this year’s Best for the World campaign in the UK, to dive into the topic of impact improvement, and the crucial role that this plays in the B Corp Community.
Hi Debbie! Tell us a bit about you, and your work as an impact manager
Debbie: Over the course of my career, I’ve developed a real interest in the challenge of balancing operational necessities with environmental and social impact. For me, this reflects a large part of what we do at B Lab UK. My role is about embedding impact, innovation and collaboration and I bring organisations together to find solutions to complex challenges. B Corps are unique in how they put aside competition to openly talk about key issues. It’s a privilege to work with a community of companies that are genuinely using business as a force for good.
From your unique vantage point of stewarding impact amongst UK B Corps, what do Best for the World honourees have in common?
Debbie: The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is at its most powerful when used as a tool to shift a business’s strategy in the long run, and that’s a common pattern amongst our BFTW honourees. Buy-in from senior leaders is a core part of this; it underpins the cascade effect we see in high-performing B Corps where employees, suppliers, investors, customers and other key stakeholders are actively engaged in continuous improvement. This leads to creativity and market leadership amongst small and large companies alike. For example, Bio-bean and Reconome (BFTW B Corps in Environment) are both great examples of small businesses implementing innovative circular solutions in traditional industries to tackle the central problem of waste.
Have you come across any standout examples of organisations packing a punch when it comes to impact?
Debbie: EQ investors is a great example of a BFTW B Corp considering its impact in every guise, across multiple impact areas, and working to achieve not just a great score, but a well-balanced one. They recently increased their score by an impressive 54 points, equally split across 3 impact areas and they’ve also achieved BFTW in the Customers impact area (find out more about their approach to the BIA here).
Consistency and robust impact go together, and this year’s UK Best for the World cohort demonstrates a real strength here (14 UK B Corps are honourees in more than one impact category). While a consistent score may be hard to achieve from the outset, it’s something we encourage B Corps to aim for over time. Recertification, which happens every three years, is a good opportunity for B Corps to embed their impact and develop a more cohesive performance across the whole assessment.
If you could change one thing about how businesses approach impact improvement, what would it be?
Debbie: I’d like to encourage a move away from the idea (often encouraged by glossy, faultless impact reports) that businesses can be perfect. I’d like the B Corp Community to be leaders in a new standard of radical transparency, where broader stakeholders are educated about challenges and opportunities for improvement, as well as goals and milestones. I often share BFTW B Corp Sawdays’ impact report as a great example of this authentic and open approach.
What are your top tips for B Corps starting on their impact improvement journey?
- Reflect early: This is just as important as starting early! Look back on your impact in the year you first certify. Where is there room for improvement? Working through the assessment is hard, so take the time to pause and re-gain purposeful intent.
- Engage with intention: Actively decide where and how you want to show up in the B Corp Community. There’s a lot on offer, so be intentional about where you want to learn, versus where you want to lead.
- Do your research: From the B Hive to B Locals, working groups to webinars…B Corps have access to valuable networks and a wide range of resources. Are you making the most of the tools and opportunities we have on offer?
- Get everyone on board: Encourage your employees, suppliers and customers to get involved in your impact improvement journey. Culture is a big piece of the jigsaw when it comes to authentically embedding continuous improvement. How can you involve your stakeholders in your impact journey?
- Don’t forget to celebrate! Whether it’s a score increase, a project win or a new process, celebrating your impact achievements helps to highlight their value to boards, investors, employees and customers.
If you’re looking to accelerate your impact journey you can pre-register for B Lab UK’s new Impact Improvement programme (exclusively available to B Corps). Over 9 months, you’ll receive tips, insights and case studies straight to your inbox, covering all 5 areas of the B Impact Assessment.
What to look out for during Best For The World 2022:
- For everyone: We’ll be sharing recordings from a series of panel discussions and coffee morning chats spotlighting expertise across specific impact areas, with a focus on operational activities that any business can learn from. Watch this space!
- For B Corps: Look out for our IBM case studies for some great insights into continuous improvement.
Don’t forget to follow @bcorpuk on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram - we’ll be celebrating Best For The World B Corps throughout July and August 2022.